© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An oil tanker is seen at the port of Qingdao, Shandong province, China April 21, 2019. REUTERS / Jason Lee / File Photo
BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese imports plunged in October to their lowest since September 2018, as large state-owned refiners suspended purchases amid rising prices while independent refiners were constrained by limited import quotas .
The world’s largest importer of crude oil imported 37.8 million tonnes last month, data from the General Customs Administration showed on Sunday, equivalent to 8.9 million barrels per day (bpd).
This is down from 9.99 million bpd in September and 10.02 million bpd in the same period last year.
Over the January-October period, crude arrivals totaled 425.06 million tonnes, or 10.21 million barrels per day, down 7.2% year on year, according to customs data.
Crude imports fell on a monthly basis for a second month and the drop occurred amid a 62% rise in crude oil prices this year as economies open globally to due to restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, stimulating the demand for fuel.
Beijing’s crackdown on the illicit trade in crude oil quotas and import quotas for independent oil refiners has also weighed on purchases.
Chart: Chinese crude oil imports – https://graphics.reuters.com/CHINA-CRUDEOIL/IMPORTS/xmpjorloqvr/chart.png
Customs data on Sunday also showed that China’s exports of refined petroleum products for October fell 31.8% year-on-year to 3.95 million tonnes.
Imports of natural gas, including piped and liquefied (LNG), amounted to 9.38 million tonnes in October, up 24.6% from the previous year.
Oil imports could rise in November as refiners pledge to address the shortage of diesel and gasoline supplies that have pushed up fuel prices.
In addition, Beijing has issued 14.89 million tonnes of crude oil import quotas for independent refiners for the remaining period of 2021, and Chinese company Zhejiang Petrochemical Corp (ZPC), operator of China’s largest refinery , separately received a quota of 12 million tonnes.
Chart: Diesel and Gasoline Prices in China – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/ce/zgpomkbbapd/China%20diesel%20gasoline%20prices.jpg
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